Thursday, March 26, 2009

NCAGT Conference Session

Working with Low Income and Minority Populations
Dr. Joyce Van Tassel-Baska

· Overlooked Gems: What do we know about identifying and serving low income students in schools?
· Research on Poverty Needs: socio-affective, cognitive bridging, instructional quality, value-added opportunities, early identification/intervention/monitoring
· The Achievement Trap (2007) Jack Kent Cook Foundation (go to this foundation’s website and download this study. . . .important research that deals with promising students in poverty
· Valedictorian Study (Arnold and Denny, 1990) . . . study found student less likely to go on to advanced degrees and took them longer . . . this was the ordeal for top students in high school (imagine how much more this hits those who struggle in high school)
· Poverty students lack access to intellectual (knowing how to play the game and who to contact), social (resources based on groups membership and networks of influence) , and cultural capital (forms of knowledge, knowing the game of school)
· Cultural Ecological Theory (see handout)
· There are also social identity issues that these students face . . . voluntary vs. involuntary minorities, stereotype threat, fewness, social alienation
· Studies listed in handout are probably available online to look up
· Affective Variables play into the picture of how we understand students of poverty
· There are also psychological issues of low income students that need to be accounted for that students are having to deal with (identity, marginalization (no way this can’t be felt, so use what appears to be a negative in a positive way), ability & effort balance (these students need to understand the relationship between effort and ability . . . effort really matters to be able to succeed at certain levels)
· Issues of finding and serving these students
· Need an assessment tool that does a better job of identifying underrepresented populations . . . performance-based assessment, non-verbal tests, creative assessments (more open ended)
· South Carolina Experience (six year study) to design assessments and collect data for different approach to identification (see handout for key findings)
· Two teacher comments in handout concerning the SC Study . . . the teachers came to appreciate these kids in ways they did not originally (there was something to them beyond their potential) . . . they may not have been as strong in LA but did very well in the other areas (that were not focused on as much) . . . teachers found that when they did go beyond and probe for higher order questions, they got great responses
· Quotes from students in handout . . . student’s understanding of world broadened . . . learning not boring . . . kids appreciated the support structure they got in the gifted classes . . .student learned more about how he learned
· What is performance-based assessment?
o To do well on a performance-based assessment in an individual domain required more effort
o Emphasis on thinking and problem solving, not prior learning
o Advanced (one to two grade levels higher but still matched the curriculum)
o Open-ended
o Use of manipulatives
o Emphasis on articulation of thinking processes
· Sample Item in Handout about Year Round School (see advanced aspect, open-ended, emphasis on problem solving and higher level thinking, emphasis on supporting thinking with reasons)
· What have we learned about needs?
o Personalized options (reach out and follow up . . . mentoring/tutoring . . . doesn’t have to be formal, but a personalized touch is needed . . . they need to know that someone cares to make a difference in their lives)
o Transition counseling (we need to have targeted counseling in place when they go from elementary to middle, middle to high, high school to college . . . this needs to start at 5th grade so they will know how what they do now or classes they take affect what they are able to do in the future)
o Long-term academic and career planning (not something that can be done just one year but needs to be continuous)
o Academic bridges (summer programs to provide a bridge for academic and concept areas needed to survive)
o Instructional scaffolds (powerful way to get students up to a high level of thinking and KEEP THEM THERE . . . they may be able to do it with the help and if long enough, it will transfer so they can do it independently)
o Cultural enrichment in the community
· Advanced Placement (AP is a wonderful academic bridge . . . universities don’t pay attention to the grade but just whether or not they took the course)

· Checklist of strategies:
· Using non-verbal tools for learning
· Design science experiments (questions in handout)
· Using multicultural tools to promote relevance and connections (see handout for criteria for selecting materials to use)
o We can do a lot with choosing African American Authors for author studies (ex. read 3 books by Verna Aardema)
o Utilize this type of literature to elicit high level responses
· Using concept maps to enhance higher level thinking in content areas (example in handout)
· When talking about implications from a situation or event, make sure to look at the implications then and now (what has happened as an immediate result and as a long-term result)
· Using the Arts to Promote Learning for underrepresented populations . . . the arts are a key approach to use
· The arts should be a part of what is being brought in as a part of every gifted and talented classroom . . . it promotes learning at a higher level
· Key Art Analysis Questions (in handout)
o What is it?
o What is it made of?
o What ideas does it convey?
o How do you respond to it?
o What is its context?
o How good is it?
· Art Appreciation Projects
o Analyze selected poems, art objects, and music
o Write critical reviews of plays, movies, and other performances
o Design relevant object of art using key design specification
· When working with families of students in poverty, find a neutral place to meet . . . we have difficulty getting parents to come to school settings
· School District Issues
o Professional development about the role of poverty and race in educational disadvantagement (teachers aren’t very knowledgeable about this)
o Changing of identification policies . . . possible suggestion: take the to 10% of African Americans (or Hispanics or whatever) and work with them in a gifted program rather than looking for a magic test . . . we need to put more efforts into interventions rather than identification
· Local Level Issues
o Can include performance-based assessments in identification process as another piece of evidence . . . use additional criteria to provide more information for decision making process, so that you have a body of evidence rather than just a one shot test
· Framework for Change: NC is the only state that is reworking assessment accountability and standards at the same time . . . we are looking at a whole new assessment process (more performance based . . . ex. writing assessment being piloted)
· We are doing a disservice to our underrepresented populations by not helping them be the best they can be

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